2018 Annual Report

Letter from the Director

Tim Donohue WEI Interim Director Tim Donohue

It is an exciting time to be working at the cusp of a transforming energy economy.

Tim Donohue

At the Wisconsin Energy Institute, 2018 marked an exciting year of transition and change. WEI is proud to be a leader in “Energizing the Wisconsin Idea” — creating knowledge and experts that can benefit the citizens and companies of our state. Continue Reading

World-Class Energy Research

Bio-renewable process could help “green” plastic

UW–Madison researchers have developed an economical way of producing a critical plastic precursor from biomass, offering an alternative to petroleum-derived material.

FDCA Crystals

Red-hued yeasts hold clues to producing better biofuels

A naturally produced red pigment may hold the key to engineering yeasts for large-scale production of isobutanol as a biofuel.

Yeasts that make a reddish pigment called pulcherrimin are helping researchers work toward producing advanced biofuels

Researchers find value in unusual type of plant material

A recently discovered variety of lignin has several attributes that could make this tough but abundant plant material a promising starting point for synthesizing a range of bioproducts. 

John Ralph

New fuel cell concept brings biological design to better electricity generation

With a biology-inspired approach, a UW–Madison team has designed a new type of fuel cell using cheaper materials and an organic compound that shuttles electrons and protons.

Shannon Stahl and Fuel Cells

In a warming world, could air conditioning make things worse?

As climate change pushes summer temperatures ever higher, more air conditioner use may compound problems by further degrading air quality and human health, according to a new study.

Air Conditioner

It’s not a shock: Better bandage promotes powerful healing

A new, low-cost wound dressing developed by UW–Madison engineers leverages a patient’s body motion to generate gentle electrical pulses that could dramatically speed up healing.

Xudong Wang

Far-reaching Education & Outreach

UW–Madison entrepreneurs compete in energy and sustainability challenge

Winners of the 2018 Wisconsin Energy & Sustainability Challenge included innovations in energy educational platforms, solar energy production and distribution, and chemical production from renewable waste materials.

WESC Prize Participants

Undergraduates participate in bioenergy research at GLBRC through REU program

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center hosted 10 REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) students in summer 2018: seven at Michigan State and three at UW–Madison. 

REU Participants

Why energy?

The Wisconsin Energy Institute asked several UW–Madison students who are studying energy issues what motivates them.

Why Energy?

UW-Madison students helping Project Home go solar with Re-volv

Equipped with carefully laid plans and a crowdfunding campaign, “solar ambassadors” at UW–Madison are bringing solar energy to a local nonprofit.


WiscWind team wins Siting Challenge at DOE competition

WiscWind, a UW–Madison student organization, impressed the judges at the 2018 DOE Collegiate Wind Competition with their plan to develop a potential windfarm within 100 miles of campus.


UW–Madison Professor's Solar Campaign For Hurricane Relief In Puerto Rico

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, UW–Madison engineering professor James Tinjum wanted to help in a way that would have a lasting impact.

Jim Tinjum

Industrial Engagement

Report: Advanced energy sensors and controls could make 44,000 Wisconsin jobs

With targeted investments and forward-looking policies, Wisconsin could capitalize on its strengths in sensors and controls for the advanced energy industry to drive economic growth and support over 44,000 jobs annually.

Jobs Sensors and Controls

Can perennial bioenergy crops help sequester carbon?

Growing dedicated bioenergy crops such as switchgrass, poplar, or restored prairie can produce substantial climate benefit – if the right factors are in place, report researchers at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

Randy Jackson examines some big blue stem

UW spinoffs win awards, including top honor, at Governor’s Business Plan Contest

A UW–Madison spinoff expanding solar lighting in Africa won the grand prize in the annual Governor’s Business Plan Contest, while a method to convert biomass into a common industrial chemical took home two awards.

School for Orphans in Mboka Paul, Democratic Republic of Congo

Jack Ma cites collaboration as key to his success

UW–Madison serial innovator Jack Ma cites strong leadership, an impressive research infrastructure, excellent faculty and support for multidisciplinary collaborations as reasons he has been successful.

Professor Jack Ma

More Info

2018 WEI Featured Awards

Many WEI investigators, experts, and affiliates received honors and awards in 2018 for their work.

Bob Landick, Rebecca Smith, Paul Wilson

Thank you!

We wouldn't miss the chance to express our gratitude to the hundreds of passionate members of the WEI community who passed through our doors to attend an event, tour, talk, or meeting in the past year.

Forward in energy forum: women in energy image